I recently read an advertisement from the early 1900s that encouraged women to get out and buy xyz shampoo because it would make you "popular." How ridiculous is that!!??? But, of course, advertising was new at the time and people believed what they read.
And that is how the personal care industry was born. Personal razors, shampoo & conditioner, deodorant, perfumes, maxi pads, etc.
Body odor and cleanliness have been issues since the beginning of time, but people had ways to take care of it. They didn't need the commercial products and in many ways they cause more harm than good.
So last November (2015) I started experimenting with the "old ways" of personal hygiene and have been surprised at the results.
Let's start with deodorant. You can click here and here to get more of the story. The bottom line is this - I tried charcoal, coconut oil, essential oils, and magnesium chloride. All of them worked until they didn't. They all had pros and cons.
When I got frustrated and said - "to hell with it" and tried regular deodorant for a day (Secret antiperspirant) I could taste metal in my mouth within a half hour. And I was back to the drawing board.
I have been using Magnesium hydroxide for the past 4 of the 7 months that I've been "deodorant-free". It works great. But there are tricks.
|My milk of magnesia deodorant set-up|
#1 - only buy MgOH2 (good old milk of magnesia - MOM) that does not contain bleach. I have found it at Walgreens (for expensive) and at SuperValue or Amazon for cheap. Dollar store MOM contains bleach.
#2 - Shake your MOM and put it in a separate container. Refill as it gets low.
|Your paintbrush will get "cakey". Wash it every once in a while.|
#3 - Use a paintbrush to paint the MOM onto your underarms.
#4 - Make sure your underarms are clean and DRY before applying. MOM will "mask" some smell but if you are not clean things can go down hill quickly. If your arms are not dry, it will slide right off.
#5 - Put your MOM on FIRST before doing anything else. Then do your hair and make up, dress your bottom half. Basically - allow it to mostly dry before getting dressed or it will end up on your clothes and not your skin where it is needed.
That's it. It actually, really works. This is the bleach-free Milk of Magnesia on Amazon.
By the direction of this post, you may have guessed that I don't shower daily. I found that showering every day dries my skin out and makes it red/itchy. So I shower every 3rd day - and I only wash my armpits and groin with soap, everything else is water only. I wash my face with water and a microfiber cloth. I wash my armpits in the morning on their own with a microfiber cloth. I am a sweaty, sweaty beast. Always have been, always will be....
That brings us to washing hair. Shampoo washes the dirt AND oil out of your hair. Your scalp makes oil for a reason. Maybe you think your scalp makes too much oil? Maybe you've been lead to believe that because somebody wants you to buy shampoo....
Conditioner puts the moisture back into your hair that you just stripped out with shampoo.
So I decided not to use them anymore and see what happens. My hope was that my hair would stop being so damaged and broken.
The last time I used shampoo and/or conditioner was February 9, 2016. Today is May 10, 2016.
Now.....if you decide to follow this road, be aware that the first 3 weeks are grease monkey city. My hair was horrible. HORRIBLE!! I wore ponytails and hid. But I was determined to see this through.
Like anything, there are tricks to make this work.
#1 - Buy a boar's bristle brush. When your head looks a little greasy, just brush through it with a boar's bristle brush and it will redistribute the oil to the lower sections of hair. This is why people in the "old days" would brush their hair 100 strokes each night. It really does take 100 strokes sometimes. As a bonus, boars bristle brushes are pretty awesome for brushing your skin (to improve lymph flow, cellulite, etc.) Double duty products are awesome. And these cost about $6 or $8.
This is the brush I use because it's soft enough to use on your body and hair.
#2 - Wash your hair with plain water (when you're in the shower) about once a week. I do it every other shower, so about once every 6 days, give or take.
#3 - Be ready for the worst hair of your life if you go swimming. But....you can bounce back without using shampoo or conditioner. You will need to rinse and soak and brush your hair like crazy. I went to Mexico over spring break and swam in the ocean. I looked like a zombie the whole vacation. When I got home I soaked in a tub of plain water for a few hours and I combed my hair over 400 times. But within 3 or 4 days I was back to good. Alternatively, you could just wash with shampoo during your vacation/swimming excursions and then go through the 3 to 4 week grease monkey period again.
#4 - Your hair texture might change. I have found that I am growing new hair - especially around the top of my hair. My hair feels thicker and looks thicker. Maybe it is breaking less? I have always been a hair shedder and I still shed hair, but maybe less? That's hard to calculate. I seem to have less split ends, but I am also cutting my own hair regularly now....
My daughter's hair has taken on a wave (she is on month 2 of no hair washing, she was on the swim team prior to starting so we had to wait until she finished the season.) Her hair is shinier, but also a little stinky. I have not noticed a "stink" with my hair. Her hair smells strongly of "scalp." She probably needs to rinse more often and/or do a better job of rinsing. Everyone is different.
Here is a before and after shot from when I cut my own hair - it was taken 2 months into the whole no washing deal so it gives you and idea of what my hair looks like sans washing. And by the way....if you have straight, no layers hair - you can easily and quickly cut your own hair. It takes me less than 3 minutes and it's FREE. This is a good hair cutting tutorial and the method I use: http://feyeselftrim.livejournal.com/1827.html#cutid1
All you need is a sharp scissors, a brush, and a pony tail binder.
|Before the haircut and without brushing.|
|After the self-haircut and using boars bristle brush|
No products, no shampoo, no conditioner, Just WATER.
Then there is female products for that time of the month.....
This is about to get TMI. Turn away if you can't handle the bloody truth. Suffice it to say, I have had 10 day periods of death for the last 6 years. I went to the doctor. I got to experience the wand of glory....and all for naught. They could not find anything wrong with me.
They offered me birth control and I told them to shove it. I have never been back to the doctor and I never plan to again.
Those 10 days include a lot of blood. Like 8 super tampons a day quantity. It's the bomb. So I started researching how to get that crap to stop. The only two possible solutions were stinging nettles and raspberry leaf tea. I happen to be a forager and nettles are something I am familiar with, so I started adding them to my diet.
I grew them in the house and ate them over the winter. I have now had 3 months of only 7 day periods. 7 days you say!!!!? For me that is a godsend. And only 2 of the days or bloody days of doom. The rest are "light."
My raspberry bushes are just coming alive now, so I will be experimenting with "raspberry leaf tea" over the summer. If it works well, then I'll be drying some leaves for winter.
|My first cup of raspberry leaf tea - YES, it's GREEN! And it tastes like green tea. Good, not overpowering.|
The spinach seems to be doing the trick without the nettles and perhaps dark leafy greens are their own cure, regardless of variety.
But as I was focused on my menstrual cycle, I started thinking about pads and tampons. Why? Because I think they suck. They are wasteful and they stink (literally!) I always feel stinky after my 10 days of doom and I thought "there's got to be a better way. Before I get into the products/results - I have to stop and let anyone that has a vaginal odor know that apple cider vinegar and magnesium chloride (mixed with water and sprayed onto the area - also called magnesium oil, though it's not an oil) does an amazing job of remedying the problem naturally.
ACV can be found at your local store but MgCl might be harder to find. This is the MgCl I mix with water to make "magnesium oil."
But I no longer need to use magnesium chloride or apple cider vinegar for smell - because I no longer use maxi pads....
Something about them either changed my ph, gave me an infection, or otherwise harbored a nasty smell.
What I use instead are.... period underwear. I made 2 pair of my own and I bought 2 pair of Thinx.
The ones I made are super absorbent - 3 super tampons absorbent (I tested them with water!) The thinx can hold 1 super tampon. The ones I made feel and look a little diaper-ish. I wear them at night. They are the bomb. I never have to change my sheets, pajamas, underwear, pad... you name it, in the night anymore.
The thinx underwear look and feel like real/normal underwear. They really rock. BUT they only hold one super tampon - max - and I have some multi super tampon days (I tested the thinx with water before using them too!)
And they are expensive - $34 or more for one pair of underwear. (If you buy them through this link, you will get $10 off and free shipping.)
With my 2 homemade pair and my 2 thinx, I am able to make it through my new 7 day cycle with only 2 or 3 super tampons. Remember, I used to be an 8 a day kind of girl with loads of super maxis included. Maybe 20 or more maxis plus 8 super tampons? And lots of leaking. And lots of mess. And lots of stink. Oh...and lots of garbage.
I wash the underwear every day - first thing in the morning. I have a family of 4 so I can do a load of laundry every day without issue. Some days I wear 1 pair, some days I have to wear 2 pair during the day (changed like a pad in the middle of the day, with tampons, and then I wear my homemade underwear at night.
I can't show you MY homemade underwear because they are "USED" but I can show you the two pair I just made for my daughter. She has about 3 or 4 years until she needs them but I was in the making mood and thought I'd get them done while I still felt like sewing.
Here's a look at what went inside.
A terry cloth towel with 3 extra layers at the crotch. One terry ellipse (scrap from cutting out the main shape) sandwiched between two layers of microfiber towel.
I also ordered her 2 pair of xs thinx panties to wear at school (using this link to save $10) and 2 pair of the red 99c waterproof pairs for her to wear on super light or "maybe my period will start today" days. I can always add extra layers if needed.
All of my homemade underwear were made from my old underwear and stuff I had around the house - sweater I shrunk, dish towels I hadn't yet used, and a microfiber yoga towel I hardly used. I could really use one more pair of thinx and another homemade pair. I am waiting for the arms to wear out of one of my wool sweaters to use it in making another pair.
I hope to never go back to disposables again. Of course, since my flow is so heavy, I do still use 2-3 super tampons each cycle. Maybe that will end once I get going on the raspberry leaf tea....
What I've learned from this whole ordeal is that alternative methods can work - sometimes better than the "traditional ways." Sometimes they are more work but worth it because of the chemicals excluded (like aluminum in deodorant). They sometimes save money, usually save on garbage creation, and it feels kind of right to be living more like the way we were made. Of course, people wouldn't have put magnesium hydroxide on their skin in the past - but they did go in the ocean - which is full of magnesium - and they did use baking soda, vinegar, essential oils and charcoal.
My next foray will be into oral health. I still have a lot of charcoal left and would like to get away from the chemicals in toothpaste if possible.
Please leave comments on things you have used/tried/gotten rid of in your life.